Kanouté hurts Keegan's ambition

Manchester City 0 - Tottenham Hotspur 1

Kevin Keegan says his biggest challenge is to convince supporters that Manchester City can finish in the Premiership's top eight this season, or even in Europe. Well, his job is harder this morning.

Given the chance to make ground on other teams with a Uefa Cup place in their sights, they blew it yesterday when they were beaten by Tottenham Hotspur, who also underperform so regularly they could be the City of the south. It was no fluke either because Robbie Keane squandered a hat-trick of opportunities.

With Keane in one of his more profligate moods, it was left to his fellow striker, Frédéric Kanouté, to get his fifth goal of the season and earn Spurs a second successive away victory in the Premiership for the first time in a campaign since George Graham was the manager. As for City, they have won only two of their last nine matches and their season could go either way. Plus ça change, as they will not be saying in Manchester.

The twin edges of their predicament was embodied by Nicolas Anelka, who was booed by supporters when his name was announced before the kick-off for saying the unthinkable - City are not a big club - yet was applauded as a potential saviour by the same people when he came on as a substitute. Yes, the home performance was that bad.

"The longer the game went on the more we passed with no real purpose and in the end Spurs deserved to win," Keegan said. "We weren't fluent. We certainly weren't inventive and we didn't look to have a goal in us today." Apart from that, they were fine.

Keegan preferred the more prosaic (not to mention loyal) Jon Macken to Anelka and had he had the Frenchman's pace he might have ended up burying the ball in the net instead of nose-diving into the the floor before the game was a minute old. Macken claimed a penalty but Ledley King appeared to have got a touch on the ball before making contact with the player.

After such an eventful start, you expected City to dominate; instead Tottenham could have gone in at the interval 2-0 ahead. Their first real chance came after 24 minutes when Rohan Ricketts cut in from the left in a manner Cliff Jones would have been proud of, leaving Danny Mills and Paul Bosvelt in his wake. Having done the hard part, however, his shot was timid and it bobbled wide of the far post.

The ending had failed to do justice to the start in that move and much the same could be said of Tottenham's next chance 14 minutes later. A glorious pass from Pedro Mendes allowed Keane to pit his speed against the lumbering Richard Dunne, a contest that was always going to have only one winner. His first touch teed him up but, as David James advanced menacingly, the Republic of Ireland striker flicked his shot the wrong side of the post.

This had suggested Tottenham's counter-attacks would be decisive eventually and so it proved after 57 minutes. Michael Brown, a former City player, was the beneficiary when yet another home move ground to a halt and his 40-yard ball could hardly have been better. City's players looked to the linesman to give them a reprieve via an offside flag but, when that was not forthcoming, Kanouté was able to get goal-side of Dunne with a touch with his thigh. Even then he was hardly in the perfect position, just inside the penalty area on the left, yet his shot had the precision of a sniper and it rocketed into the top corner. Normally the goalkeeper is to blame when he is beaten at his near post; on this occasion James did not have a hope of saving it.

City brought on Anelka and the younger Wright-Phillips, Bradley, but rather than a barnstorming finish from the home team it was Spurs who should have added to their score. Keane went round James after 68 minutes, but found his route to goal barred by Sylvain Distin, and 10 minutes later Brown found the Republic of Ireland striker with a lovely pass from the right. Unsurprisingly, he knocked the ball over.

For Keegan, those misses were a blessing. "We had four or five players under par and in the Premiership most weeks you are going to get what we got today," he said. "Absolutely nothing."

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
Sport
footballStriker has moved on loan for the remainder of the season
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
New Articles
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
booksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering